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How to Use Ridesharing to Travel Europe on the Cheap

Blablacar for Ridesharing, Uncontained Life

Back in the day, if you wanted to hitch a ride through Europe, you had to rely your wits, and your thumb. Nowadays, the sharing economy has blessed us with BlaBlaCar–a ridesharing service which lets anyone looking for a ride–or a passenger–to safely and cheaply road-trip their way across the continent (and beyond–Blablacar’s range of serviced countries is expanding rapidly). is not the only ridesharing option in Europe (you can also check out RideFinder and Ride4Cents) but the company has the most user-friendly platform (probably why it’s so popular), and so, it’s the one we chose to use when traveling through Germany and Austria this past September. 

**Uncontained Life is in no way affiliated with BlaBlaCar. We are NOT being paid to write about this service…we’re doing it because we think it’s good!**

How to Use Blablacar for Ridesharing in Europe

What is Ridesharing?

At its core, ridesharing is just another sort of carpooling system–albeit with a 21st century twist. Using a the rideshare’s digital platform, drivers heading to a given destination on a given date are able to advertise their vehicle’s available empty seats to potential passengers looking for rides to the same destination. The driver benefits by being able to cute the costs and loneliness of a long drive by themselves, and the passengers benefit by being able to get where they want to go less expensively (and sometimes more quickly) than they would if they chose a bus, train or plane.

Is it Safe?

Ridesharing is, generally, quite safe. Blablacar’s platform allows you to check the profile and reviews of any driver you are considering (multiple reviews/ ratings let you know that other members of the community vouch that the driver is who they claim to be). Plus, cashless payments help ensure no money need change hands on the actual day of your ride. For solo female travelers who don’t wish to share a car with a male driver or passengers, Blablacar also offers a “Ladies Only” designation which drivers can choose when offering rides, and riders can look for when searching for a lift. 

What Kind of Savings Can You Expect? 

While savings will, obviously, vary depending on how popular a driving route is, and how far you want to travel, in almost every instance, using Blablacar for ridesharing in Europe costs less per seat than a bus or plane. Here on Rome2Rio, for example, you can see current price differences for a flight, a bus ride and a rideshare from Paris to Aix-en-Provence:

Blablacar for Ridesharing, Uncontained Life

As you can see, booking a rideshare means you’ll be spending 72 euros less than if you took the train (the fastest option), and will arrive a good 4 hours sooner than if you took the bus (the next cheapest option after ridesharing). Plus, you won’t have to deal with airport security (which can add a good two hours onto the estimated travel time for any flight). 

How Does it Work? 

BlaBlaCar’s online platform is exceedingly simple to use. First, create an account, select your country (American and other English-speakers should choose United Kingdom), and set up your profile. (Tip: Providing a bio and a photo that lets people see your face clearly will help you to get rides!)

Blablacar for Ridesharing, Uncontained Life

Blablacar for Ridesharing, Uncontained Life

After your info. has been approved, you can start looking for rides!

Blablacar for Ridesharing, Uncontained Life

As you can see if you look in the left-hand column, there are a number of ways to filter your search. The most important filters are, obviously, your desired departure date and time.

Blablacar for Ridesharing, Uncontained Life

If your date is too far in the future (I.E. there are few rides available), you can sign up for an email alert.

Blablacar for Ridesharing, Uncontained Life

As you look at potential rides, there are a few other factors to keep in mind in addition to the basics of leave time and price (Note: at this time, there isn’t a option to change the currency–if you’re using the site in English, the quoted prices will be in UK pounds). First, you’ll want to make sure your potential driver’s “preferences” match your own: If you’re allergic to pets, steer clear of drivers who allow them; if you hate non-stop chatter, don’t pick a driver who wants that kind of experience.

Blablacar for Ridesharing, Uncontained Life

Blablacar for Ridesharing, Uncontained Life

Second, read your driver’s reviews–I.E. their “rating” details. (This may require you to use google translate!) If a driver doesn’t have reviews yet, that’s not the end of the world, but you should recognize there’s a higher risk booking with someone who hasn’t been vetted by fellow ride-sharers.

Blablacar for Ridesharing, Uncontained Life

Third, you’ll want to double check to make sure the pick-up/ drop-off points and the luggage space they say is available will work for your needs. (Read more about luggage under the “Tips” section below.)

Blablacar for Ridesharing, Uncontained Life

Once it looks like you’ve found the right ride, make your booking request (Note: sending a request does NOT guarantee you’ll get the ride.)

Blablacar for Ridesharing, Uncontained Life

If the driver accepts your request, you can complete your booking online using your credit card, debit card or Paypal account. (If your driver cancels the ride after you’ve paid, your payment will be refunded.) Once your booking is complete, you’ll have access to your driver’s mobile phone number, and they’ll have access to yours. Your driver will let you know where, exactly, you’ll be meeting them, so make sure you tell your driver how you would prefer to be contacted (if you use WhatsApp, you can let your driver know you prefer to be contacted that way). 

Don’t forget to review your driver after your ride (it helps others find reliable rides, and avoid bad experiences!)

Additional Tips to Help You Use Blablacar for Ridesharing

1. Blablacar’s “small,” “medium,” and “large” luggage categories are very much open to interpretation. Before completing any booking, be sure you have sent your luggage dimensions to your potential driver to confirm everything will fit. In our experience, a 22″ length x 14″ width x 9″ height bag/suitcase (I.E. 56 x 36 x 23 cm) is “medium”–anything above that is “large.” Click here to see the bag we used.

2. Rides are usually posted 3-5 days before the leave date (though they are sometimes posted earlier, or at the very last minute). For the best range of options, set an email alert that will let you know each and every time a new ride for your desired travel date and destination is made available on the site. 

3. At the time of writing, requesting to book a ride does not mean you are obligated to complete the booking (I.E. pay for the ride). Therefore, if it’s important for you to get a ride on a specific date, we recommend that you send simultaneous requests to 2-3 potential drivers. In our experience, drivers are not always open to accepting riders who can’t speak their language (it’s less a prejudice than it is a concern that they will not be able to communicate properly with you, and visa versa). Sending simultaneous requests ensures you won’t come up empty-handed. Just make sure that if you get more than one “yes” response, that you tell any driver you choose not to book that you have found another ride (otherwise it’s just rude). 

4. On the day of your ride, plan to arrive at the pick-up point a little ahead of time. Once you’ve arrived at your designated pick-up point, send your driver a message letting them know you are there. It may be that your driver will need to give you additional, or more specific information about where they will be looking to meet you and by taking the initiative, you’re more likely to avoid problems.  

5. Talk to your driver! Sure, it may feel a bit awkward at first, but in the end, it’s a great opportunity to get some local insights and tips. And sometimes even more: in one instance, a conversation about classical music led to us receiving free tickets (worth 70 euros each!) to an amazing concert at the Orangerie in Vienna!

Have a question about the information in this article or ridesharing in general? Leave it in the comment section and we’ll do our best to help! 

*All images are the property of and, respectively. Again, Uncontained Life is in no way affiliated with BlaBlaCar. We are NOT being paid to write about this service…we’re doing it because we think it’s good!


7 Responses to How to Use Ridesharing to Travel Europe on the Cheap

  1. Ève Des Roches April 12, 2019 at 9:40 am #

    Major travel warning about Blablacar!!!

    I booked a ride to Sevilla where I had to take a flight I couldn’t’ miss since I had to pick up my mom, who was coming from Canada, at the same airport.

    They made a huge mistake and, despite receiving a confirmation by email, my name didn’t appear on the driver’s phone app. The ride was full and I was left alone where I had no other option but to take a taxi which ended up costing me 200 EUROS. Being in a small city not well-connected sucks.

    I asked for a compensation of the same amount in credit to use on their website, but they refused saying the they couldn’t aka didn’t want to.

    I used to praise this service after using it a lot, but please, be careful. They don’t care about you; they don’t care about leaving you stranded and penniless and taking you hostage on a day you had no other option but to empty your travel savings because of a mistake they’ve made.

    • UncontainedLife October 4, 2019 at 6:20 pm #

      So sorry to hear this happened to you! Thanks for sharing your experience. No service of this sort is perfect, but forewarned is forearmed!

  2. Christina November 29, 2018 at 6:09 pm #

    I’m traveling in January from the US to Italy and I have a few questions on how I can use this app. I set it to UK so it would be in English. The only bank options are abroad, so I planned on using PayPal, but I’m not sure if it will automatically convert my dollars. I also I understand if i’m not using my data, I can’t use the app. What has other people’s experience been with using their data abroad for this? Should I be concerned with extreme roaming fees? Any advice or information would be greatly appreciated.

    • UncontainedLife December 28, 2018 at 11:44 am #

      Can’t speak to the dollars to pounds conversion, but I expect Paypal will handle that without issue. As for using data abroad: the good news is, wifi is available in many public spaces (restaurants, coffee shops, etc.) in Europe, so if you need to access the app you can usually do so via wifi — no need to use data at all. That said, if you’d prefer the option of having data available (in case of emergencies or just for convenience), you have a couple of avenues you can explore: 1) Depending on who your carrier is in the States, you may have the option to temporarily add an international data plan before you leave on your trip or, if you are a T-Mobile customer, you should get free texting and data in over 100 countries (Italy included) as a part of your basic wireless plan. 2) Alternately, if your carrier’s international plans are too expensive, consider getting your phone unlocked before leaving the US and, upon your arrival in Italy, purchasing a local SIM card with data that can be topped up as needed (do some googling to see where to purchase these pay-as-you-go SIMs). Hope that helps!

  3. Vic Lee July 22, 2017 at 7:33 am #

    Can we use blablacar in Southern France on October 15 Sunday?
    We would like to go from Montelimar to Vallon Pont d’Arc to see
    the Chauvet Cave Replica.
    Thanks, Vic Lee

    • UncontainedLife July 23, 2017 at 3:21 am #

      Hi Vic– If you head over to you can see what rides are currently available for that date & destination. If you don’t see anything now, check again closer to the travel date (most rides are posted less than a week before the person plans to travel) or, better still, set up an alert on the site so you’ll be notified when new rides are posted for your chosen date and destination. Southern France also has good public transportation. If you are staying at a hotel (or Airbnb) in Montelimar, the staff (or your host) can probably offer the info. you’d need to take the TER bus which runs several times daily from Montelimar to Vallon (though Sunday buses are probably less frequent than other days of the week). Once in Vallon, there’s a free mini bus which runs hourly, taking visitors to the Pont d’Arc.

      • Vic August 31, 2017 at 9:41 am #

        Thanks for the information. We are currently checking on Bus 76 to see if Sunday October 15 will work for us. Also, there may be other options. Thanks, Vic